How to Spot, Treat and Recover From Tennis Elbow

In the past few months we’ve noticed a lot more cases of elbow pain – primarily Tennis Elbow, at our Sydney based Precision Physio clinics, so with that in mind we want to help you to understand more about this particular injury and how to spot, treat and recover from Tennis Elbow. 

What is Tennis Elbow?

Lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow, is not limited to tennis players. The backhand swing in tennis can strain the muscles and tendons of the elbow in a way that leads to tennis elbow. But many other types of repetitive activities can also lead to tennis elbow and these include extended time using the mouse or keyboard, carrying bags, painting, or using tools around the house or garden.

Tennis Elbow symptoms lasting more than six weeks become sub-acute and beyond three months, as chronic tennis elbow.

How to Spot, Treat and Recover From Tennis Elbow

Tennis Elbow Symptoms?

The main symptoms of tennis elbow is tenderness and pain that starts at the out elbow and spreads into the forearm.  The pain may even spread down as far as the hand. 

The forearm muscles may feel tight and sore, and the pain usually gets worse when you bend your wrist backward, turn your palm upwards, or hold something with a stiff wrist or straightened elbow. 

Grasping items such as a kettle may make the pain worse, as does opening jars and turning stiff door handles.

Some sufferers will also have neck stiffness and tenderness, as well as signs of nerve irritation. Most elbow movements will be pain-free, despite that being the area of pain.

What Causes Acute Tennis Elbow?

Acute Tennis Elbow is caused by damaged muscle tissue at the point it anchors to the arm bone at the elbow. It occurs when more force is applied to an area than normal healthy tissues can handle.

Common Tennis Elbow Causes Include

  • Unaccustomed hand use, e.g. painting a fence, hammering, lots of typing.
  • Excessive gripping or wringing activities
  • Weak forearm muscle strength or tight muscles
  • A poor technique (this may be a poor tennis shot)

In some cases, such as Chronic Tennis Elbow, this can occur due to the soft tissues being in poor health, which are easily injured. Inflammation follows the injury, which leads to swelling and elbow pain.

How Is Tennis Elbow Diagnosed?

Your physiotherapist or doctor clinically diagnoses your Tennis Elbow. After listening to your injury history and using some confirmatory clinical tests, they may determine a provisional diagnosis of tennis elbow.

An ultrasound scan or MRI are the best tests to identify any tendon tears or inflammation. X-rays are of little diagnostic benefit.

Who Suffers Tennis Elbow?

Tennis Elbow occurs commonly in the community. It is present in 40% of all tennis players (hence it’s named) and 15% of people working in repetitive manual trades. It can occur at any age. However, sufferers are generally between the ages of 35 and 50.

Predictably, the side affected is usually associated with handedness, but it can occur in the non-dominant arm. Males and Females are affected equally.

What if I Don’t Fully Fix My Tennis Elbow?

Relative rest plays a key role in decreasing pain and inflammation, and patients are usually encouraged to cease the aggravating activity until their symptoms are under control. 

If you persist with the activity despite pain then the inflammation continues, the tendon can become continually weaker, and a tear can result. This then requires a much longer time to heal, is harder to treat, and problems can become chronic.

Tennis Elbow Treatment

Physiotherapy is useful in the short and long-term management of tennis elbow.

Physiotherapy aims to achieve a:

  • Reduction of elbow pain.
  • Facilitation of tissue repair.
  • A restoration of your normal joint range of motion and function.
  • A restoration of your standard muscle length, strength and movement patterns.
  • The normalisation of your upper limb neurodynamics.
  • The normalisation of cervical joint function.

There are many ways to achieve these and, following a thorough assessment of your elbow, arm and neck, your physiotherapist will discuss the best strategy for you to use based on your symptoms and your lifestyle. 

At Precision Physio, our physiotherapists are trained and experienced in managing patients recovery and our approach is based on the following five phases.

5 Phases To Recovery from Tennis Elbow

1. Optimise & Control Inflammation
2. Restore Muscle Length
3. Improve Muscle Strength
4. Correct Biomechanics 
5. Sports, Ballistics and Advanced  Strengthening  

If you found this article about Tennis Elbow useful and feel that Precision Physio could in someway help and support you, please contact us directly or leave a comment below.

How Do I Book An Appointment with Precision Physio for Help?

We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call any of these numbers to schedule a session:

Online Consultations

Evolving with the current environment, we are also now offering online appointments, meaning that we can support anyone who is unable to leave their home. Sessions are done via our state of the art Telehealth system and as long as you have a laptop or tablet with an inbuilt camera, or a phone with camera, we can help! Online consultations would be especially effective if you’re feeling isolated and need support even though you may not be local. Rest assured that we have many clients working with us who are not based in Sydney and the results have been great.

To learn more about online consultations, please call us on any of the numbers listed above.

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